Friday, April 12, 2013

Late Entries and No-Show Consequences

I have to start taking action mainly due to a problem with no-shows and players entering after the deadline. I'm happy that most parents follow the rules and most parents probably don't need to read this. 


Deadlines: Players who enter the Friday tournament after the Thursday 10pm deadline will not be paired. I am still receiving entries after this deadline, even though the emails, the forms, and confirmation emails discuss this deadline. So I hope parents understand that these late entries will not be accepted. 

I have had to enforce this deadline with several players already, some who I've known for a long time. Turning away a player makes me feel bad. Because I've already had to do this to players that I like very much, I know that I must keep on doing this.  

Please do not ask for me to make an exception if you entered late. I feel that it is unethical for me, as the tournament director and organizer to be inconsistent with this. I am very uncomfortable with people requesting for me to make exceptions. While I try my best to make it fun for the kids, I have to be fair. 

I can consider letting players make up the tournament on a future Saturday if there was a good reason for entering late, but I can't enter a player in the Friday tournament after the deadline. 

In the past, if I saw someone was entered late, I would try hard to email or contact the parent. Now I feel that parents should expect their child not to be paired if they enter after the deadline. The entries are timestamped to the second, an email response is sent, and it is logged. The email clearly says that if the entry was made after the deadline, then the pairing won't be made. I also post the roster of players entered for the Friday tournament online so it can be reviewed ahead of time by parents. So if you entered late, please don't bring the player anyway. I understand this has happened in the past because I didn't make it clear how strict this policy is or maybe I didn't write it clearly enough in emails and forms. But now I feel that this message is being communicated repeatedly and parents of experienced players or new players should know this. 

No-Shows Still Happen: There are some players who have entered online but no-show. If a player uses a form to enter a tournament, that player is making a commitment to show up and play. And unless that player withdraws, tournament staff and the kids in that section expect the player to fulfill the commitment. Players still no-show, despite me mentioning it in emails and explaining how it messes up sections. I feel that sometimes it happens because parents just don't think about how this effects other players, or that they don't expect consequences.

The only thing I can do to improve this poor experience caused by no-shows is to deny memberships and entry to tournaments in upcoming semesters to those who no-show without explanation. I have tried to send follow up emails to parents of no-shows making sure that everything is ok, and sometimes I don't get a response. And sometimes as I get busy, I forget that this happens, and I don't talk directly to the parents about the problem that this is causing. My plan is to just restate this policy, pay very close attention to this problem, and continually address this issue. But the most important change - I will simply start refusing entries from those who I don't trust will show up. 

As for the consequence or penalty for no-show: I don't feel right changing a membership, canceling, or refunding it mid-semester unless things get extremely bad, because I did not list such consequences ahead of time. It never occurred to me that this no-show could be a repeating problem. I feel that it is fair for me to ask players not to return if I am worried that they will not show up to the games they signed up to play so I'm just making this announcement now so parents can understand what to expect in future semesters if things don't improve. 

Please withdraw your player if you can't make it. I check the online entry logs and I am actively looking for withdrawals on Friday, as well as checking for these types of emails on my phone and computer. There is nothing wrong with withdrawing on Friday. I assume this will happen because I know kids get sick, parents sometimes have to work late, there are transportation and traffic related issues, and things just come up. If you let me know, I can make an adjustment that does not cause players to wait around nervously for 30 minutes. It is perfectly fine to withdraw from a tournament any time before it starts but I do prefer as much notice as you can afford.  You can also leave a tournament in progress, if you simply tell me. Withdrawing after giving notice is perfectly acceptable and standard in United States Chess Federation practice. It is also perfectly fine to let me know if you can't make it to round 3. For example, if you have to be somewhere by 9:00pm you can just schedule to miss round 3.  Basically everything is great if you try your best to communicate with me and let me make adjustments so the kids in the tournament get the best experience possible.

You can withdraw by using the online entry form and clicking on the withdraw option, or by emailing me (even last minute if there is an emergency). If you have to leave early in a tournament, just tell me.